A couple of months ago we got wind of the news that Terminator Salvation and Avatar star, Sam Worthington, was going to be replacing Tom Cruise in the spy thriller, The Tourist. That’s the male lead sorted out, but what about the female lead? Well, up until this point it was Charlize Theron who was set to play the role, but today we learn – by way of THR’s Risky Biz Blog – that she’s officially stepped away from the project, and word is that Brad Pitt’s even prettier half, a.k.a. Angelina Jolie, is in talks to step in and take her place.

A remake of the 2005 French-language thriller, “Anthony Zimmer“, The Tourist centers on “an American tourist who, on behalf of Interpol, goes undercover to entrap a former lover who’s a suspected global criminal.” If Jolie actually signs on for the role, it will follow her recent spy role in Salt (she, ironically, replaced Tom Cruise in a gender-switched role), with the role here being described as, “one-part seductress, one-part action.”

The Tourist is said to follow in the footsteps of such films as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, Roman Polanski’s Frantic and is even said to share a central theme with the Liam Neeson surprise hit, Taken. From what I understand from the plot description of the original French film, Anthony Zimmer, the story concentrates on the titular male lead (presumably being portrayed by Worthington) – but I wonder, with Jolie being the bigger name, will they tell the film from her character’s perspective? It’s entirely possible.

On top of Theron stepping away from the project, and the folks behind The Tourist needing to look elsewhere for their female lead, they will also need to look for a new director, too, as Bharat Nalluri (The Crow: Salvation) has also stepped down from the project. Neither the studio (Spyglass), Jolie, Theron or Nalluri’s reps could be reached for comment on the change-ups, but the producers are actively looking for a new director. There’s been a production start date of early 2010 set for a while now, which, if that start date is still holding, may prompt producers to hurry up their hunt for a new director.

Oscar-winning screenwriters Julian Fellows (Gosford Park), Chris McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Bill Wheeler wrote the script for The Tourist and as far as we know, that’s the version that will be filmed.

I haven’t had a chance to see the original Anthony Zimmer, so I can’t speak as to whether a remake is warranted or not. But to me the plot sounds intriguing enough, and even with the switching up of actors giving off a bit of a “make your mind up” smell, I’m interested in seeing Jolie in another action-plus-beauty role, as well as Worthington expanding his resume. With regards to the latter, with roles in three huge movies – Terminator Salvation, Avatar and Clash of the Titans – it goes without saying the Aussie actor is doing extremely well for himself. More power to him, I say.

What do you think of the change-ups of The Tourist‘s lead actress and director? Would you like for Jolie to be the one to replace Theron, or would another actress be the better choice?

As far as we know, The Tourist is set to start shooting in early 2010, with no release date set as of yet.

Source: THR’s Risky Biz Blog